I always like fun stories about how shifting product mix affects capacity. Today’s example goes with another topic that interests me: rum-based cocktails! From the New York Post (No more mojitos!, Aug 7)
This summer, those behind the bar are taking a stand by deleting the cocktail — made with rum, muddled mint, sugar and lime juice — from the menu, or refusing to make it. The reason is twofold: The drink is simply too time-consuming to make, while at labor-intensive cocktail bars, it’s been deemed out of fashion.
“The [mojito] has always been the bane of bartenders, as it is a time-consuming drink to prepare well,” explains cocktail guru Eben Freeman, director of bar operations for chef Michael White’s Altamarea Group.
It’s a matter of basic economics, says Freddy Thomas, 41, a bartender at a bustling downtown spot where groups of tourists and high-heeled young women often order the drink en masse, much to his chagrin.
“Time is money. You can make six or seven other drinks in the same time [it takes to] make three mojitos,” he says.
So mojitos hammer capacity. But is simply refusing to make them the right answer? Arguably this could be addressed by pricing. If a mojito really takes twice as long as a gin and tonic or a drawing a beer, the bar could just charge more. That may alienate serious mojito fans but so does feigning being out of mint.
It is also not clear to me that making mojitos really costs a bar sales. If your friend orders a mojito, does that keep you from getting your cocktail? Shifting the product mix to items that are less capacity intensive makes sense if that increased capacity actually leads to higher sales. For that to be true here, one needs to spin a tale that either customers refuse to drink at a place that is too crowded (which doesn’t fit with the trendy bar part of the story) or that people like crowds but drink less when the service on each round is slow. The latter is plausible but it is then an empirical question of whether banning mojitos makes a noticeable difference to customers in service times.
A final point: Who gets to make the mojito/no mojito call, management or bartenders? The article depicts this as a bartender revolt and management might well back them up. However, there may be some divergence of preferences here. Management may want to keep customers happy by serving them their preferred drink; bartenders may want to finish serving the party in front of them quickly so they can serve (and get tips from) the next party.